With a crappy station assignment for the upcoming USGP in Austin the thoughts of “is it still worth it?” loom as I’m about to depart for Texas early next week. Of course it is! One potentially disappointing trip will not deter me from continuing to volunteer. Especially when there is something better to look forward to. This post therefore is my “Wishlist” – the events and places I would really like to marshal in the near future, in no particular order.
I believe I have narrowed the list down to just five (5) items. However before I proceed to list them, I should cover a few places and events that, while I’d love to volunteer I probably most definitely could. And some that I have lost interest in for a variety of reasons. This should illustrate the way I look on volunteering at this point in time, which would be an interesting concept to revisit at a later date especially to compare how feelings change with time and experience.
To start, there are a few places I’d really really really like to marshal. High atop that list is the Spa 24 hour race – the feature event of the Blancpain Endurance Series (BEC) at the famous Spa-Francochamps circuit in Belgium. I can totally see myself going there if only I could get all the ducks in correct order. Malaysia Merdeka 12 hour endurance is definitely high on that list of races I “could” marshal also. I love Malaysia! I love everything about it and cannot wait to work with my friends again in Sepang. And to visit Thailand or Singapore on the way over there. The Bathurst 1000 would be nice to do, because it too is the pinnacle of Australian V8 Supercars series. I have yet to do the Dubai 24 hour race, my first visit to the UAE made a great impression and I genuinely look forward to returning one day.
The “would be nice” list:
Spa 24 hour Blancpain Series at Circuit Spa-Francochamps
Malaysia Merdeka Asian GT at Sepang International Circuit
Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercars at Mount Panorama
Dubai 24 hour at the Dubai Autodrome
Hungarian Grand Prix F1 at Hungaroring
There are also events which I would NOT bother pursuing. Chiefly among them is Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. I feel that way not just because it was a total pain in the ass experience the last time I attempted to put my name on the volunteer list there. But mainly because there are much better events at the Yas Marina Circuits that I would focus on. And to be honest I would return to do the Gulf 12 hour in a heartbeat, because I really enjoyed the circuit and the racing the last time I worked there. Monaco Grand Prix is also not on my list at all, even though everyone suggests it as a “dream” destination. I wouldn’t event attempt it, not just because it would require to learn French, lose a lot of weight and have to audition through a very physical obstacle course with a heavy fire bottle on my shoulders. That actually sounds like fun. But more importantly because of the arrogant atmosphere surrounding the recruitment process and the perceived recruitment processes spread like fire word of mouth at events I’ve participated at already. I have found myself enjoying Sports Car events far more than I do Formula 1. I would however, totally do a new (to me) F1 circuit like the Hungaroring especially since I was invited directly to participate there. Similarly, I would love to volunteer at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) since I’ve been invited to marshal there many times now. But the one event I would like to start with isn’t actually open to volunteers like me and instead is handled by VIR employees which bumps this track off my wishlist.
The “no thanks” list:
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix F1 at Yas Marina Circuit
Monaco Grand Prix F1 at the Monaco Street Circuit
Oak Tree Grand Prix TUSC at Virginia Int’l Raceway
I think since I started my marshaling hobby in Singapore, there are two prominent places on “The Wishlist” in Asia and both have rejected me. But, I will not be deterred and aspiring to volunteer there will hopefully get me a more welcoming result in the future. As I’ve mentioned before since Western teams eagerly participate in the series there, there’s no reason for a non-local to marshal there either. So without further ado, I present to you…
The Macau Grand Prix – Guia Street Circuit is a very desirable destination for me personally. I have visited, driven on (albeit on a shuttle bus) and walked the actual street circuit used for this fantastic event. It is one of two country Grand Prix in the world that are not affiliated with Formula 1. And I have done the other one already, which just happens to be New Zealand Grand Prix. It is also one of the few events in the world featuring both car and bike races over the same weekend. Not only that but you have sports cars, open wheelers and motorcycles using the same circuit to compete. Talk about variety!
Pokka 1000 – Suzuka Circuit also turned me down because I don’t speak a lick of Japanese. Boo Hoo… Despite a very international field of drivers participating in this SuperGT endurance race who like me, probably don’t speak a lick of Japanese either. But what a fantastic event it is. You’ve got the best of Japanese technology on display with the GT500 field and a healthy mix of European and Asian tech in the GT300 field. Would totally love to be there one day wearing orange overalls and a white helmet with a big smile on my face.
DTM! The German spec supercar series is like a dream to marshal even though everyone I have spoken with about it, suggests that the atmosphere is reduced to Formula 1 style dictatorship where everything is controlled and mostly forbidden by the organizers. The good news, my not speaking German would not be a deal breaker. So there’s a shimmer of hope and a strong desire to volunteer for a DTM race in it’s current glory before it is completely changed… (like the upcoming races for the Australian V8 Supercars series). Worst case scenario I could probably marshal DTM without a language barrier at the Moscow Raceway. But I’d prefer Germany.
Stockcar! The Brazilian Stockcar is no NASCAR of South America. While a Chevy Sonic or a Peugeot 206 stuffed with a big V8 obviously differentiates it from the American Toyota Camry, watching clips of the Brazilian races on YouTube makes me want to participate. Sure the language would be a problem, but much like Germany I think the locals would be welcoming and allow me to play. The location doesn’t particularly matter to me, though Interlagos in São Paulo would be an obvious choice for a number of sentimental reasons. One day I shall make it happen.
The African 6 hour. There’s something about South Africa that really intrigues me. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a bunch of people from there at various Australian, New Zealand and British events (and by British I will lump the Gulf 12 hour into this experience as the busload of Brits were imported to marshal at Yas Marina circuit specifically for that event). And I can’t wait to visit the actual country and some of their famous circuits. There was a time when even Formula 1 ran there, but with current level of competition between Asian, Middle East and American circuits… it seems SA has been forgotten. The African 6 hour keeps the legacy alive, featuring a good grassroots level machines from Sports Cars to Prototypes in a form of I guess Radicals and home grown variety. I really want to go there and join the team in orange at least once in the near future.